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United States v. North Mail, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Alaska

April 7, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
North Mail, Inc., et al., Defendants.

ORDER AND OPINION [Re: Motion at Docket 32]

JOHN W. SEDWICK, Senior District Judge.

I. MOTION PRESENTED

At docket 32 plaintiff the United States of America ("the United States") moves for a partial default judgment against defendant North Mail, Inc. ("North Mail") pursuant to Rule 55(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendants George O'Brien and Colleen Van Vleet (collectively, "O'Brien & Van Vleet") oppose at docket 35. The United States replies at docket 36. Oral argument was not requested and would not assist the court.

II. BACKGROUND

The United States' complaint includes three claims. Claim One is to reduce to judgment federal tax assessments against North Mail; Claim Two is to set aside North Mail's transfer of real property to O'Brien & Van Vleet; and Claim Three is to foreclose federal tax liens against that same real property. At docket 20 the court granted the United States' motion to serve North Mail by posting on the Alaska Court System's legal website. After the United States completed service on North Mail in this manner on January 9, 2015, [1] a Clerk's Entry of Default was entered against North Mail.[2]

The United States now moves for a partial default judgment against North Mail as to Claim One only.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Rule 55(a) provides that the clerk of the court must enter a party's default "[w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise." "Upon entry of a default by the clerk, the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint are deemed admitted."[3] Following the entry of a clerk's default, Rule 55(b)(2) provides that the plaintiff must apply to the court for a default judgment. "In determining the amount of damages to be awarded, the district court may conduct an evidentiary hearing or it may, in appropriate circumstances, rely on detailed declarations or documentary evidence."[4]

Although default judgments are ordinarily disfavored, [5] "the grant or denial of a motion for the entry of a default judgment is within the discretion of the court."[6] In exercising this discretion, courts may consider the following factors:

(1) the possibility of prejudice to the plaintiff;
(2) the merits of plaintiff's substantive claim;
(3) the sufficiency of the complaint;
(4) the sum of money at stake in the action;
(5) the possibility of a dispute concerning ...

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